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SAD no more with Vitamin D

Nov 25, 2011     Posted by: Dr. Sara Henderson ND

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As the hours of daylight continue to decrease, so too does the energy and cheerfulness of many.  Insufficient exposure to sunlight has been linked to mood changes, sleep disturbance, cravings and weight gain.  According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 2-3% of people in Ontario may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  As well, another 15% have a less severe episode of the “winter blues."   SAD is a form of seasonal depression that tends to occur during the fall and winter months. I encourage you to take a stand this winter season and put a stop to your “winter blues”.

Beat SAD with Vitamin D

Vitamin D, is a superstar nutrient produced in the body upon exposure to sunlight.  A large body of research has confirmed that there are numerous vitamin D receptors found throughout the brain - connecting vitamin D to mental health. Research published in the International Archives of Medicine in 2010 suggests that the risk of having depression is significantly increased in people with deficient levels of vitamin D, compared to those with vitamin D sufficiency.   The fact is that two thirds of Canadians have low levels of vitamin D.  I highly recommend that everyone take at least 1000 IU of vitamin D3 every day of the year to support overall health, including a balanced mood. Jamieson has an extensive line of quality vitamin D supplements. Choose from tablets, liquid, or tasty chewables.

Other Tips to Avoid the SAD-ness

1. Keep your mind and body active. Commit to something you enjoy doing. Hit the gym, go snowshoeing, listen to or make your own music, read a book or start scrapbooking. Exercise can decrease the stress hormone, cortisol, and increase endorphins, which are happy brain molecules. So start moving!

2. During the winter months it is common for many to leave for work, and return home, in darkness. Let there be light in your life! Grab a breath of fresh air or go for a walk outside during breaks. It even helps to work near a window and open your blinds at home on the weekend. Light therapy is a good option for those who do see enough of winter daylight.

3. Keep your immune system strong. Combating the common cold or flu can bring even the happiest people down – let alone someone with SAD. Luckily vitamin D helps to support proper immune function too!

4. Plan a winter trip with your partner, friends or family. A southern getaway is your best bet for boosting mood. Studies show that people who live in northern latitudes are more susceptible to SAD than those who reside further south. However, if you dream of a ski vacation or a city trip that will work too. Even if your pocket book only allows for a 1-2 day getaway, get creative and make something happen.

If none of the above gets you out of your slump, you may be suffering from a more severe form of depression and should consult your health care practitioner. Ask your doctor about cognitive therapy and other natural options, such as supplementing with vitamin B or St. john’s wort.



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